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Leaving Letcher County, home for the first time



At the end of World War II millions of veterans were returning home and they were looking for work. Finding work in Letcher County was a job in itself. Most vets ended up working in the coalmines.

When seven of us teenagers left Jenkins to join the Army Air Corps, none of us had ever been away from home before. I was one of the three who went into the military that day. The other guys chickened out and went back to Jenkins.

I had many jobs my first couple of years as I was one of the low men on the totem pole. Then I made the best decision I ever made in my life. I became a printer, and for the better part of my career I was one of the youngest in my shop.

When I became NCOIC of my first printing department, I found I could be a good boss. I found out that it’s not about you, it’s about your people. When you take care of your people, help them accomplish their goals and live up to their potential, great things will happen.

Share your successes and failures and tell them how you handled them. Make it a teaching moment so you can make them a better leader. I made sure they could do my job someday.

If you make a mistake, admit it and learn from it, don’t just shrug and keep wandering on aimlessly. Learn from your mistakes as well as from others around you so you can be ready when you face the same circumstances again.

Anyone can be an armchair quarterback. Managing from the rear will get you little to no respect and people will not be motivated. Lead from the front, show people that you are not asking them to do anything you are not ready, willing and able to do yourself.

Give people a sense of accomplishment and make sure your people are recognized for it.

When the heat comes down you are out front, taking the heat.

Early in my career my boss had me on his promotion board, and I always made sure that my people were promoted when they were ready for the next rank.

I also made sure my people never had any extra detail just because we wore fatigues to work and some high-ranking officers wanted my people to work on some dirty job. I always had a good boss who backed me up.

I was so very proud of my people when we were told, many times, that we had one of the best printing departments in the Air Force.

Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfi eld, Calif.



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